May 2011 Newsletter – Feature NGO in Laos: World Education

Posted: May 1, 2011


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Legacies of War was created to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace.
Postcard from Laos – May 2011  
 
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” We don’t blame anyone in particular; the war led to many problems during and after. We just want to have an opportunity to live peacefully.” – Ms. Peng in Xieng Khoang

“Meeting Ms. Peng and Mr.  Landon was humbling. It is a reminder that no matter how long ago the bombing took place or how much progress we’ve made, our work here is far from being done.” – Ms. Channapha  

 

                                   

UPCOMING EVENTS  

 

Legacies of War Exhibit  

at Brookdale Library at Brooklyn Center, MN up until June 1st. 


Refugee Nation (Seattle) 
 

co-presented by Legacies of War, Lao Heritage Foundation Seattle Chapter, and Pat Graney Dance Company, Get your tickets – May 19, 21, 22 

 

Association of Asian American Studies Conference (New Orleans)

Presentation – Undigested War: Purging Official Narratives of U.S. Wars in Asia with Still Present Past, May 18-21 


Minnesota Reception & Fundraiser
with Mines Advisory Group (MAG), June 15th
 

National Asian American Theater Festival (Los Angeles) 

Presentation – Refugee Nation, from LA to Laos: A Diasporic, Transnational Project, June 22

 

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Ms. Peng leads an all-female demining team in Xieng Khoang.

COURAGE IN XIENG KHOANG: Ms. Peng, 29, lost her youngest brother,11, from a cluster bomb accident in 2004. A year later, she joined the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and now leads the all-female demining team in Xieng Khoang. Everyday, she says good-bye to her children (most of the 18 demining team members are mothers), puts on her safety gear and seeks out bombs to clear so villagers can safely use their land. Over the last month, her team found and cleared 26 unexploded ordnance in Ban Dongdan village. 

Sabaidee Friends and Supporters!  

 

I’m writing from beautiful Xieng Khoang, a region of great significance to Legacies of War. It is home to the historic collection of drawings featured in the Legacies of War National Traveling Exhibition. These illustrations, collected in 1971, showed the plight of villagers who escaped and helped to expose the secret U.S. Bombings of Laos. The recovery of these illustrations seven years ago became the catalyst for creating Legacies of War.  

 

In the last seven years, Legacies has helped to push for an increase in U.S. funding to $5 million for the Lao UXO sector, doubling the amount since 2004 when Legacies was founded. The increase has led to greater numbers of clearance teams, some of whom I met on this trip, and more support for victims assistance, which means more lives are being saved today and in the future.

 

In Xieng Khoang, expansive construction projects are signs of the region’s revitalization – once completely demolished by the bombing and war. However, bomb-infested farmland and recently injured survivors remind us of the long road ahead to the recovery of the land and safety for its people. Xieng Khoang is not alone – one-third of the land in Laos and all 17 provinces remain contaminated.  

 

But I can imagine how distant Xieng Khoang and the bombing might seem to most people living in the U.S., especially with the country’s current involvement in multiple wars in the Middle East.  But I wish you were here – to meet people like Ms. Peng, who lost her youngest brother in a cluster bomb accident and Mr. Landon, who, at the age of 23, went blind as a result of an accident just last year. They remind us, in their quiet, dignified way, of what happened here and how tangible  the effects on their lives continue to be.  

Landon with his family

They thought they were safe. Landon’s family had lived in Ban Sone for nearly 40 years, without any cluster bomb injuries or accidents. Then last October, he went to light a campfire, as he’s done hundreds of times in their backyard, and was blinded by an explosion caused by a cluster bomb. (Photo: Landon, 23, with his wife, father and daughter) 

I am humbly reminded that no matter how long ago the bombing took place or how much progress we’ve made, our work is not done here. Please join me, Legacies and others to reaffirm our commitment to doing what we can to help people like Ms. Peng and Mr. Landon.

As I write this, the U.S. Congress and State Department are still deciding on the allocation of the FY11 budget, with discussions underway for FY12. We have to make sure this issue stays on the radar of policy makers in the U.S.

Please help us to continue being a strong advocate in Washington, D.C. and around the U.S. with our educational activities and programs to ensure a safer path for the people of Laos.

 

Join us by making a tax-deductible donation.

The month of May is usually quiet in Laos, as villagers try to stay cool and rest for the rainy season, where rice and other crops will be cultivated and harvested. Let’s make sure when they return to work their land, it will be a safe place for them to grow food and harvest their crops.

And as we enter the summer in the U.S., we look forward to seeing you around the country at our various planned activities in Seattle, New Orleans, Twin Cities, Los Angels and other cities near you!

Sok dee,
Channapha

Feature NGO in Laos – World Education

As part of our on-going effort to highlight the many great organizations working in Laos on the UXO issue, we’re happy to showcase the work of World Education, a Legacies of War partner, who works in Xieng Khoang and other regions in Laos.  

Since 1992 World Education (WE) has implemented programs in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in refugee repatriation, health, agriculture, anti-trafficking and microfinance. Since 1995, WE has been and continues to be involved in the UXO Victims’ Assistance and UXO/Mine Risk Education: The primary Victim’s Assistance programs include:  

1). Medical capacity building for Trauma Care WE has trained over 1,500 emergency medical personnel in clinical, diagnostic, and management skills in four provinces with high UXO impact.  

2). Financial Support for Medical Care and Rehabilitation WE established the War Victims Medical Fund (WVMF), which covers the cost of medical treatment for victims of UXO accidents in seven provinces of Laos impacted with UXO.    

3). Livelihoods training WE coordinates a training and small grants program in livelihoods development to UXO accident survivors and their families. Training is offered in livestock care, business, English, and other skills. The UXO/Mine Risk Education & Awareness trains teachers and school administrators to effectively instruct primary school students in UXO Awareness using interactive curriculums, posters, books and puppetry teams. This program has impacted 200,000 students in 1,800 schools in 40 of the most heavily impacted UXO districts in the country. Additionally, WE has trained over 6,ooo national teachers to use the curriculum and instructional material. For more information please contact Connie Woodberry.  

 

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